Heading into week two of the NFL’s unrestricted free agency period, it’s clear that the Los Angeles Rams are preserving salary cap space and refraining from sizeable, long-term investments. The roster is in a state of flux where only Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, and Matthew Stafford remain as franchise cornerstones.
The Rams have watched players they’ve groomed over the years leave for greener pastures: Greg Gaines signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Nick Scott joined the Cincinnati Bengals, and Matt Gay received a big pay day from the Indianapolis Colts. Taylor Rapp has also been making free agent visits.
One former Los Angeles draft pick that has had a quiet free agency period is CB David Long. Long was drafted in the third round out of Michigan and appeared in 52 games for the Rams over four seasons (starting 10).
It was this time last year, Kyler Murray was getting thrown around by Troy Reeder and throwing touchdowns to David Long. pic.twitter.com/xVvMgqG1AT— Blaine Grisak (@bgrisakDTR) January 16, 2023
While the Rams originally drafted Long with the idea that he was a great scheme fit in Wade Phillips’ man-heavy defense, LA has since adopted Vic Fangio concepts that features zone-match coverages. The team has relied on Long at several points over the last several years with mixed results.
Re-signing the cornerback would immediately make him the most experienced member of the Los Angeles secondary. Safety Jordan Fuller, who has 31 career games under his belt, would be second—though he is recovering from two significant injuries dating back to 2021.
It’s clear that Long doesn’t have much of a market at this point, so why not bring back an individual whose development you’ve poured resources into over the last four seasons? It’s a low-cost, high-reward. Long has the talent to be a starting level corner in the NFL, it just hasn’t worked out at the pro level so far.
Without Long and prior to April’s draft, the Rams are currently slated to start second-year corners Cobie Durant and Derion Kendrick. Robert Rochell could grow into a key role in the secondary; however, he largely disappeared in his second season after impressing in spurts as a rookie. Long has inside-outside position flexibility and could provide a more affordable and higher upside alternative to a reunion with veteran cornerback Troy Hill.
The Rams aren’t going to make sizeable investments in this year’s free agent crop, but it makes sense to reunite a young corner that you’ve spent the last four years developing and molding into a starting-level player. Should the Rams re-sign David Long?
The Rams first pick is in the 3rd round of this years draft. The team has drafted some key starters and contributors from the 3rd round.— RAMS ON FILM (@RamsOnFilm) April 20, 2022
David Long Jr was a 3rd round pick in the 2019 draft. Long finished last season/post season very strong.
1 on 1 vs DeAndre Hopkins, week 14 pic.twitter.com/Bvob5UBItp